» This Story:Read +|Watch +| Comments
Page 2 of 2   <      

Ticket and Travel Troubles Cloud Inauguration Success

Video
Despite arriving many hours before the swearing-in, even ticket holders had trouble getting into the ceremony. Congressional staffer Scott Gore sent in this video from outside the gates for the blue-ticket seating area.

Network News

X Profile
View More Activity

Officials acknowledged yesterday that miscalculations by planners and poor communication among law enforcement agencies contributed to a chaotic situation outside checkpoints to the Capitol's west front, where thousands of ticket holders wound up stranded and unable to attend the inauguration.

This Story
View All Items in This Story
View Only Top Items in This Story

Yesterday afternoon, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies issued a statement apologizing to ticket holders who weren't admitted. By evening, Feinstein, who headed the committee, said she had summoned the head of the Secret Service and demanded an investigation.

"I have heard enough to know that something went wrong and we need to find out what happened," Feinstein said in a statement. She referred to the thousands of ticket holders who couldn't enter Capitol grounds and the problems with the Third Street tunnel, "where thousands of people were stuck for several hours and apparently without any law enforcement presence."

A satellite image taken at 11:19 a.m. -- 11 minutes before the scheduled start of the swearing-in ceremony -- shows tens of thousands of people clumped at security gates for holders of tickets for the silver, blue and purple viewing areas on the Capitol grounds.

To make matters worse, the same kind of crush occurred yesterday at National Airport and Tuesday night at Union Station as many of the same people tried to get home.

At National, many passengers missed flights because of long lines, even though airlines had added staff and opened early. At transit hubs such as Union Station and L'Enfant Plaza, where riders catch commuter trains and Metro trains, confusion was so bad that people were crying, officials said.

But people were most bitter about the experience at the swearing-in. Gainer denied that slow screening was responsible for the difficulties, saying that the sections filled by noon and that additional people couldn't have fit even with speedier processing.

His account contrasted with reports from some people who got into the sections and said they weren't full. Authorities did not count how many entered or were stuck outside.

The satellite photo indicates that the back parts of the blue and purple ticketed areas were largely empty. It also shows empty swaths in the silver ticketed standing-room-only areas on both sides of Third Street, beside the Capitol Reflecting Pool.

City Administrator Dan Tangherlini said that his office had been closely monitoring the crowding in the tunnel leading to several checkpoints and that police were at both ends, trying to control the flow. He blamed the crowd backups on slow processing at the security checkpoints just outside but said his staff did its best to keep things moving.

"When we saw the tunnel filling up, we worked to try and clear it, but it might not have felt that way to people inside," he said. "We never expected the tunnel, which is vast, to fill up with people."

Dan Gerstein, a political consultant from New York and a purple ticket holder who never made it inside, had no sympathy for official explanations. He said he was "outraged" with security officials' performance at such an important event. "There was total incompetence and insensitivity, and now they are compounding it by being unaccountable," he said angrily. "At a moment of great hope, they crushed the hopes of thousands of people."

Staff writers Mark Berman, Maria Glod, Hamil R. Harris, Dan Keating, Lena H. Sun and Eric M. Weiss contributed to this report.


<       2

» This Story:Read +|Watch +| Comments

More in the Metro Section

Local Blog Directory

Find a Local Blog

Plug into the region's blogs, by location or area of interest.

Virginia Politics

Blog: Va. Politics

Here's a place to help you keep up with Virginia's overcaffeinated political culture.

D.C. Taxi Fares

D.C. Taxi Fares

Compare estimated zoned and metered D.C. taxi fares with this interactive calculator.

FOLLOW METRO ON:
Facebook Twitter RSS
|
GET LOCAL ALERTS:
© 2009 The Washington Post Company

Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity